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18 Mar 2017

CBI: No state officer in team

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui and Kinsuk Basu, TT, March 17: The CBI will constitute a special team to probe the Narada sting and the group will not include any officer posted in Bengal, sources in the central agency said.
Hours after Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI probe into the sting, agency director Alok Verma held a meeting at the CBI's Lodhi Road headquarters in New Delhi.
"A special team will be formed by tomorrow. Since the sting operation involves politicians from Bengal, a senior officer hailing from some other state will head the team. It will have officers from states other than Bengal. We will take only logistical support from the state government," a senior CBI officer said.
The sources said the team probing the Narada case would begin by going through the tapes in detail, taking notes on those who feature in the videos and the date and time of the sessions. Separate files will be prepared on those seen on the tapes.
Over the next few days, the CBI will seek a copy of the report on the tapes from the central forensic science laboratory in Chandigarh and speak to senior police officers in Bengal on what steps the state government had taken against IPS officer S.M.H. Meerza, a person resembling whom is seen on the tapes accepting cash.
The agency will also seek details from Mathew Samuel, the Narada News chief editor who conducted the sting, about those who helped him in the operation.
Before drawing up a detailed questionnaire for those seen on the tapes, the CBI will speak to the officers of Calcutta police's economic offences wing who had questioned Samuel at Lalbazar in December.
Samuel has been booked under various sections of the IPC, including forgery, defamation, public mischief, criminal conspiracy and false statement in connection with an election.
Sources said CBI officers had contacted Calcutta police commissioner Rajeev Kumar and requested him to provide the case file and other documents relating to it.
The agency has also asked for the laptop, pen drive and i-Phone used in the sting operation.
"Our probe will include the possibility of the local police tampering with the evidence," another CBI officer said.
Some CBI officers expressed surprise at the short deadline given to the agency by Calcutta High Court to conduct the preliminary probe.
"It may be because most parts of the sting CD, which is the most important evidence in the case, have been declared genuine by forensic laboratories," the officer said.
Samuel hope
Samuel hoped that with the CBI taking up the Narada case, he would get relief from frequent summons by Calcutta police.
Now recuperating from a fistula surgery in Kerala, Samuel said: "They not only kept sending me summons but also called up everyone associated with me, from my driver to the financiers, scaring the latter away from funding the portal."

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